In a word. College.

Everybody has a reason for hating college students.

And why wouldn’t you? They’re always late, always hungover, and always wearing those damn rugby tops. They commandeer every tutorial conversation towards drunken anecdotes, socialise in exclusive wolf-packs, and think they can handle the entire academic day with just a pen. Frankly, it’s despicable.

Even college students hate college students, so long as they belong to a foreign residence. The conservatives of Newman envy the promiscuous nymphomaniacs of St. Hilda’s; the bogans of U.C. can’t stand the snobs of Trinity; the elitists of Queens think little of the St Mary’s country bumpkins.

From an outsider’s perspective, the notion of collegiate life seems like social nirvana, where everybody knows—or has slept with—everybody else in their village. Organic parties rage into the wee hours of the morning; every night is a chance to redeem oneself from the embarrassment of the preceding sunrise.

Yet beyond the borders of their respective residences—and perhaps the Parkville grounds, should they feel ambitious—college inhabitants must feel like fish out of water. So attached are they to their school camp-esque routines that these kids surely don’t know much else. Admittedly, they may be able to paint portraits of their miniscule hometowns, located on the forgotten edges of outback Victoria. But ask them to direct you to Flinders St and I bet you they’ll be left clueless.

It’s easy to think of college as a boarding school for older teens, a continuation of an attractive and “independent” lifestyle inherited from their pricey private school. The problem is, of course, that boarding school isn’t life. It’s a romantic excuse for reality, where prison food is served on the dot at six, and new friends are a dime a dozen. It’s the youthful equivalent of a Delfin community, where everybody lives on Truman Show streets, and nuclear families deliver fruit baskets to their neighbours.

At first glance, it seems ideal, but it’s nothing more than an inflated fantasy.

Then again, perhaps my cynical imaginations are a tad inflated.

By all reports, college administrators actually do offer their citizens a generous dose of reality. What the stereotypes fail to disclose is that college students are more than one-dimensional figures. They don’t all drink like fish. They don’t all sleep like sloths. And not all of them will become Delfin zombies.

In fact, these perennial slackers—should they choose to attend class—are resigned to the same demands as “day kids”. They have just as many subjects, just as many contact hours, and just as many exams.

They just have more parties. And friends.

Indeed, most of these kids—or at least the ones that aren’t full-fee payingbourgeoises —actually earned their spot at uni the hard way. On top of achieving the super-human ENTER scores required for Melbourne admission, they had to further persuade big-shot college directors of their “college-material” status. One of my internal sources divulged that this screening process involved a minimum blood-alcohol requirement, however I won’t be able to confirm this until he’s released from the emergency ward.

While college kids may not have the luxury of train journeys to conquer last-minute readings, they reside in an environment of common rooms and neighbourhood accountability. For every minute of inebriated madness, there is at least thirty seconds of silent study, in which the masses hide their inner animal beneath a studious façade.

Without a doubt, these occasional bouts of inactivity must catch the odd collegian off guard. The uninformed latecomer must feel like a bathers-clad surfer, intruding on a boardroom of suited-up executives. Nevertheless such circumstances can be avoided; diligent workaholics can allegedly spend whole days without seeing anybody. Then again, that’s probably got more to do with an influx of new films on the college network.

Colleges pride themselves on their ability to nurture their citizens into mature members of society. While it may take time for me to believe this ludicrous claim, I will concede that the propaganda is backed up by various testimonies.

One college-dweller, for instance, told me of their involvement with various extra-curricular activities. College introduced them to the undiscovered realms of sport, drama and music. It likewise transported them into the unfamiliar spheres of historical establishment tours, first aid, and beverage contests.

Another subject spent hours informing me of their newly-acquired social skills. Amidst their enthusiastic ramble, they emphasised how the familial college setting helped crack open their shells. No longer does the sight of strangers scare them away. In fact, so long as that stranger isn’t sitting next to them in a lecture theatre, or donning common (a.k.a. non-college-related) attire, they would feel no hesitation in breaking the ice.

Good for them. They can believe whatever they want.

At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t matter whether college is an effective footstep into life after graduation. Nor does it matter whether college students work as hard as their mainstream compatriots. What matters is that collegians embrace the university lifestyle that American films portray with such reverence.

Of course, their tracksuit pants reek of bad fashion, and their hair stinks of cheap goon, but which one of us wouldn’t follow suit? Love ‘em or hate ‘em, their carefree lifestyle represents all that we adore about naïve, uninhibited freedom.

And if they all end up living in Delfin townships, everybody wins.

Apparently this article has become the most discussed piece on Farrago’s website, with numerous college students using the online sphere to launch attacks on me . I don’t know if this feat is worthy of celebration, but you can check out the discussion at this link. My favourite comment comes from Chris, who labels the article “absolute crap” and calls me a “doosh” (sic). I’ll let you be the judge of that.